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Publication numberUS2444754 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 6, 1948
Filing dateJan 4, 1946
Priority dateJan 4, 1946
Publication numberUS 2444754 A, US 2444754A, US-A-2444754, US2444754 A, US2444754A
InventorsSteffen Ralph M
Original AssigneeSteffen Ralph M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for heating oil wells and pumping oil therefrom
US 2444754 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)


Patented July 6, 194$ APPARATUS FOR HEATING OIL WELLS AND PUMPING OIL THEREFROM Ralph M. Steffen, North Hollywood, Calif.

Application January 4, 1946, Serial No. 639,124

10 Claims.

an oil well and pumping oil therefrom.

The primary object of this invention is to provide apparatus for augmenting the yield from oil wells.

-An important object of the invention is the provision of apparatus which is applicable to existing wells to renew or increase this output, or which may be employed with equal facility in low yield shale and oil sands and in fields where normal procedures for development of the oil deposits are not practicable.

. A further important object of the invention is the development of apparatus which shall concurrently condition the oil strata for increased oil flow and effect an increased output from the well.

An additional object of the invention is the development of an apparatus for heating the interior of an oil well by means of successively admitted confined charges of explosive gas and the ignition of said charges with a resultant heating of the interior of the well, and the surrounding oil bearing strata, and utilizing the pressure of the combustion gases for pumping oil from the well.

A further object of the invention is the provision of apparatus for simultaneously heating the perforated liner wall of a well to facilitate flow of oil thereinto from the surrounding oil sands, the heating being effected by successively igniting confined charges of combustible gas and the expanding gases resulting from the ignition of the gases being utilized to operate a pump for pumping the oil from the bottom of the well.

A still further object of the invention is the provision of apparatus for simultaneously heating the oil sands adjacent a well and pumping the oil therefrom which is relatively simple in construction and highly reliable and efiicient in operation.

With the above recited objects in view, togethe with others that will become apparent in the course of the following disclosure, reference will be had to the accompanying drawing, forming part of same, and wherein:

Fig. 1 is a vertical sectional view substantially axially of an application of the invention in accordance with a preferred embodiment thereof;

Fig. 2 is a horizontal sectional view in the plane of line 2-2, Fig. 1.

Referring now in detail to the drawing, idesignates a bed or strata of oil sand with the level of the oil therein substantially at the line L. The oil well is defined by a casing l having perforations II therein for emission of heat from within the casingto the oilsand, as well as to provide for the flow of oil from the sand to within the casing.

The combined oil heating and pumping structure comprises a cylindrical pump casing l2 whose upper end is thickened as at [3 and from which projects the tubular extension [4. The upper end of the extension [4 is detachably connected to the lower end of the tubular oil delivery tube [5 which as indicated in Fig. l-projects above the ground surface and which is provided with an oil delivery conduit I6. The lower end of the casing i2 is closed by a wall ll and from which wall projects a downwardly extending cylindrical member 18 coaxially withcasing l2 andextension l4. 1

The casing I2 and member 18 respectively provide relatively large and small cylinders in which are respectively disposed power and pump pistons l9 and,2ll which are preferably of integral construction and with the piston 20 coaxial with the piston 19. The pistons I9 and 20 are yieldably retained in their upper positions by means of a coil spring 2! which surrounds the piston 20 and whose opposite ends bear on cylinder wall I1 and the lower face of the piston l9. y

A tubular heating coil 22 surrounds the casing I2 and has the upper free end v thereof in communication with the interior of the casing immediately below the thickened top wall I3 and ing l2 and the upper end thereof in the form of .a gooseneck 26.

A tubular fitting 21 is detachably connected to the lower end of the cylindrical member l8, and at its lower end is in communication with the interior of the oil well casing, and intermediate its ends is connected with the lower end of an oil delivery conduit 28 whose'upper end is in communication with the oil delivery tube l5 above the extension I4, and is indicated at 29.

The fitting 21 is provided with check or foot valve 30 of any known type for controlling the flow of oil into the lower end thereof and into the member l8, and another check valve 3| likewise of known construction is provided in the conduit 28 for preventing back flow of oil therethrough. An explosive mixture conducting tube 32 is removably disposed within the tube l5, and at its lower end is provided with a frusto-conical portion 33 whose external surface has a fluidtight sealing engagement with a corresponding surface in the upper thickened casing wall 13, the weight of the tube maintaining such sealing engagement.

A suitable ignition means, such asasp'ark-plug 34 and an electric circuit, not shown, is provided in the tube '32 between the top ill of the casing Ill and an explosive mixture control valve 35 which maybe manually or automatically operated to control the quantity of combustible mixture supplied to tube 32, and may be of any known construction. i

It will be understood thatthe purposes of. the invention may be attained by numerous arrangements. For example, I may elect to introduce a combustible mixture into the heating coil either under pressure from the source of supply or by applying suction to the discharge end, or both. Again, I may vary the pressure of the explosive mixture and/or the combustion-products as the well is progressed deeper and/or localconditions dictate.

The combined pump and heating. structure is capable of being lowered into-the well casing l and the joint connection at 33-is for the purpose Ofpermitting-lowering: of the tube. 32 into operative position after the other parts have been positioned, which joint also. permits ready removalof'thetube.

In the operation of the structure above. described; a mixture of explosivegas is admitted through the control valve 35 and down through the-tube 32 and thencethrough the tubular coil 22 as well-as the conduit 23*to thewpressure relief valve 24: The cont1'0l'Valve35'is thenclose'd and the combustible charge is ignited by means of plug 3'4 which results in an explosive flame within the tube 32; coil 22 andconduit23 The substantial-heat evolved thereby is radiated from the walls of the coil and conduit and penetrates the surrounding oilsand through the perforations I l in the well-casing Hi.

This heating of the well and the surrounding oil sand lowers the viscosity: of the entrapped oil and" results in an increased flow of-oiLfrom' the sand intothe bottom of the well through theperforations H. The control valve 35' and plug 34 maybe operated improperly timed: relation by any desiredcam control means, for continuous or intermittent operation;

The operation as above descri-bedis repeated by theintermittent admission and confining of explosive gases and the succeeding ignition-thereof. The pressure relief valve 24 is set to momentarily retainthe expanding hot gases whereby the pressure thereof is exe-rted- -uponthe'top of piston I9 which is accordingly: iorced down against the spring 21: witha resultingdownward movement of-the smaller pistonzfli iinthe: cylinder or member 185 The gag -pressure is 'there'afterreleasedby valve 24', either by the attainment of a predetermined pressure or by mechanical means, as -set forth hereinbefore, and -tlie pistons i9 and ZU'are forced upwardly to the position i-n Fig. 1 by--thesrpririg 2 1; l

Attention is directedto the operation of the combustion system. It: will be noted that there is'a step:bystepunidirectional circulation through the device,- 4 the incoming. charge: serving to expel or replace the residual iproducts oi c'ombustion, therebyefliciently scavenging. thev device of: in-

ert gases. Thus, power impulses and heat emis-l, sions of uniform intensity can be maintained and the regulation of the combustion process is effectively controlled.

Upon upward movement of piston 20 within member 18 a partial vacuum is created within the member l8 resulting in opening of the check valve 30 and the flow of oil upwardly in member l8; as=indicated in Fig. 1'. Upon downward movement of piston 20' by the exertion of the combustion gas pressure on piston l9, valve 30 closes and valve 3| opens, whereby the oil in member 18- is forcedthrough conduit 28 and thence upwardly through the oil deliverytube i5 and to a point of collection through the conduit I6.

The breather conduit 25 allows escape of gases fromw-ithinthe casing l2 beneath the piston l9 preventing the same from acting as a dashpot. By: provision of the relatively large piston l9 which may be approximately five to six times the diameter of the piston 20,- the latter would move downward under a very high pressure, thereby insuring the pumping of oil from a well of considerable depth.

It is common knowledge that much residual oil is unrecovered from exhausted wellsdue to the great-depth involved'and the loss of the gas pressure of the oil field. Moreover, many oil deposits are not commercially productive, due among other factors to the temperature" of the strata and/or the viscosity of the oil. It'willbe obvious that the invention constitutes a simple and reliable means for eife'ctively treating such strata for optimum extractions of the oil and simultaneously therewith provides adequate pumping means for efiecting its discharge to the surface of the ground, and this regardless of 'tlie depth of the well;

It should be appreciated from the foregoing that a relatively simple structure is provided for carrying intoeffect a novel method ofheating the oil sands adjacent a wellby the intermittent ignition of successive confined charges of combusti'ble gas to facilitate flow of oil from the sands into'the'bottom of the well, andbyutilizinng the pressure of the burning gases to operate a pump for delivering the oil from the well too. point above the ground surface;

I clairn:

1. Apparatus for heating the interior of a well defined by a perforated casing extending through an oil sand strata and for pumpin oil from the well comprising an 011 pump' disposed within the casing adjacent the lower end of the well,

' said pump-comprising a cylinder and a cooperating piston'therein-yieldably retained in an upper position by a spring, a combustible gas conduit communicating with the cylinder abovethe piston-therein; means for admitting andi'gniting successive combustible charges in the conduit for disposition of heat therefrom and for forcing the piston downward, an oil delivery'conduit communicating with the interior of said cylinder and extending from beneath thepist'on to a'point above the ground surface, and-check valves "supported by the cylinder and'delivery conduit for admitting oil to the cylinder beneath the-piston upon upward movement of the piston and'for admittin oil frombeneath said piston totlie delivery conduit upon downward movement' of the piston.

25 Apparatusfor heating the interiorof-anoiI well and the adjacent oil sands surroundingsame tofacilitate flow of oilfrom-the sands into the well and for pumping the oil in the well there'- from, comprising a cylindrical casing supported within the well adjacent the bottom thereof by means of an oil delivery tube terminating above the top of the well, said casing defining a cylinder and having an axial tubular extension defining a substantially smaller cylinder projecting downwardly from the first cylinder, unitary pistons in the cylinders and yieldably retained in upper position by a spring disposed within the casing and engaging the lower face of the larger piston, a combustible gas conduit extending into the well and communicating with the larger cylinder above the piston therein, a control vavle in the conduit above the well for admitting successive combustible gas charges thereto, means for igniting the combustible charges whereby heat is dissipated through the conduit wall from the burning gases and the expanding burning gases acting upon the upper face of the larger piston to force same downwardly against the action of the spring, an oil deliveryconduitcommunicatingwith the lower end of the smaller cylinder and the oil delivery tube, and check valves supported by the lower end of the smaller cylinder and the oil delivery conduit for effecting pumping of oil from the well upon reciprocation of the piston in the smaller cylinder.

3. The structure according to claim 2 wherein the combustible gas conduit includes a coil surrounding the larger cylinder, the coil merging into a portion extending vertically upward within the well and provided with a pressure relief valve at its upper end externally of the well for temporarily holding the burning gas pressure within the conduit for forcing the pistons downward.

4. The structure according to claim 2 together with a breather conduit communicating with the lower end of the larger cylinder and terminating in a gooseneck above the well.

5. The structure according to claim 2 wherein the control valve supporting portion of the combustible gas conduit comprises a readily removable section extending through the oil delivery tube and having a weight sealing joint connection with the upper end of the larger cylinder.

6, Apparatus for operating an oil well having a well casing extending below the standing oil level of a surrounding oil strata, comprising; an oil pump positioned below the standing oil level of a well casing, an oil delivery conduit communicating with and supporting said pump, a combustible gas conduit, combustion products pressure actuated means for operating said pump, a combustion products heater carried by said pump and positioned below said oil level, said gas conduit communicating with said means and with said heater, additional means delivering successive charges of a combustible mixture to said gas conduit and igniting means for initiating combustion in said gas conduit.

7. The combination of claim 6 wherein said combustible gas mixture conduit is concentric with said oil delivery conduit means.

8. The combination of claim 6 wherein said combustion products heater surrounds said pressure actuating means.

9. The combination of claim 6 wherein said pressure actuated means comprises a cylinder carried by said oil delivery conduit, said cylinder having a piston reciprocable therein, said piston operating said pump.

10. The combination of claim 9 including inlet and. outlet ports in said cylinder on one side of said piston communicating respectively with said gas conduit and said combustion products heater, and a vent to the atmosphere on the other side of said piston.


REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent:

UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 200,393 Harris Feb. 19, 1878 1,152,392 Breitung et al Sept. 7, 1915 1,309,721 Drinkern July 15, 1919 1,354,757 Popcke et al. Oct. 5, 1920 1,820,291 Strandell Aug. 25, 1931 2,134,610 Hogg Oct. 25, 1938 2,173,556 I-Iixon Sept. 19, 1939 2,335,961 Pick Dec, 7, 1943

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US200393 *Dec 29, 1877Feb 19, 1878 Improvement in steam-heaters for oil-wells
US1152392 *Feb 10, 1914Sep 7, 1915Subterranean Heater CorpMethod of treating subterranean wells.
US1309721 *Feb 14, 1919Jul 15, 1919 Apparatus fob heating oil-wells
US1354757 *Feb 3, 1917Oct 5, 1920Frank C ReedApparatus for treating oil-wells
US1820291 *Mar 17, 1930Aug 25, 1931Arthur StrandellOil extracting device
US2134610 *Apr 26, 1937Oct 25, 1938Hogg Coy COil-bearing sand heater
US2173556 *May 16, 1938Sep 19, 1939Hixon Hiram WMethod of and apparatus for stripping oil sands
US2335961 *Nov 15, 1940Dec 7, 1943I C MillerDevice for heating paraffin in oil wells
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2675081 *Oct 23, 1950Apr 13, 1954Union Oil CoMethod and apparatus for pumping and heating oil wells
US2732016 *Sep 30, 1950Jan 24, 1956 macleod
US2911047 *Mar 11, 1958Nov 3, 1959Henderson John CApparatus for extracting naturally occurring difficultly flowable petroleum oil from a naturally located subterranean body
US3208527 *Jul 10, 1961Sep 28, 1965Exxon Production Research CoMethod and apparatus for controlling flow of well fluids
US4446917 *Mar 12, 1979May 8, 1984Todd John CMethod and apparatus for producing viscous or waxy crude oils
US4502535 *Aug 26, 1983Mar 5, 1985Kofahl William MJet engine pump and downhole heater
US4878540 *Jun 22, 1988Nov 7, 1989Raymond William MApparatus and process for pumping fluid from subterranean formations
U.S. Classification166/62
International ClassificationE21B36/00
Cooperative ClassificationE21B36/005
European ClassificationE21B36/00D